What to do when you see pet neglect
Below is an actual email sent to PAWS
Thank you for taking your time in reading my email. I would just like to ask for enlightenment.I have this neighbor (quite far from our place) who has this dog chained on their windows. I just noticed that the dog is getting really thin as if it is being starved to death. Before that, the house beside this "cruel neighbor" also has a thin dog with the same condition. I fed it once and notified the owner of the house regarding the cruelty. After two days, I've never seen the dog.Tonight, I will visit and hopefully feed the dog when I get back from work. The people here are not really friendly and the police are unreliable. Will this kind of act (starvation of animals) has good chances to be resolved?
Answer from PAWS:
If the dog is within the property of the suspected animal offender, "starvation" is one of the most difficult things to prove. Several times we have already knocked on doors and checked and the owner simply says that "reports aren't true, dog is being fed, dog is just sick, dog doesn't eat much, etc"
If the approach isn't a friendly one initially made by a friendly neighbor (i.e bringing in food to share in the guise of having a birthday party and just 'steering conversation into' condition of the dog) or if someone of authority suddenly knocks on their door without an initial friendly intervention, the more likely the dog will 'disappear'.
Offenders know that the dog is the most damning piece of evidence and will try to hide or transfer the animal in a place where it can't be seen. In which case, we would have to have an affidavit of a neighbor willing to testify at all court proceedings that the dog is being starved and try to secure a warrant.
Note: PAWS does not have legal authority to confiscate owned animals who are neglected or abused. This has to be coordinated with police and proper charges have to be filed in order for the animal to be taken out of harm's way. Without a written affidavit and witness willing to come forward, PAWS cannot forge ahead with further legal action.
Please let us know if you can make a friendly approach. If not, please be prepared to execute an affidavit stating that you have personal knowledge that the dog isn't being fed (i.e. state circumstances why you know this) and submit to us.
A third option would be for PAWS to send a warning letter, but from experience, this 'spooks' the owner and also results in a "disappearing act" for the dog. We would recommend trying the friendly approach first. If the owner can be educated about responsible pet ownership (*please be careful not to sound as if you are reprimanding the owner when you do the initial approach), it is the dogs that will benefit from your diplomatic approach and you will get all the information needed for a complete report.
Kindly remember that PAWS volunteers are ordinary citizens just like you who have taken their concern one step further by speaking up for the animal. =)
In summary, the options you have are:
1. Try the friendly approach.
2. Call in 3rd party such as PAWS (if in Metro Manila) and barangay for visit
(we try to keep it friendly but a lot turn hostile at being confronted)
PAWS is a volunteer-based organization so we do use the barangay a lot (Barangay officials, unlike PAWS volunteers who are unpaid and have regular day-jobs, are mandated to check on violations of the law - a way of making your taxes work for you and impress upon government officials that animal welfare concerns are important to their voters).
For Metro Manila cases
, if you choose PAWS, please make sure you have submitted an affidavit first (sample of affidavit)
because PAWS would want to be ready to file criminal charges in case talking with the owner does not work. For cases outside Metro Manila
, please provide transport for the PAWS representative or call PAWS for guidance on how to file cases yourself.
Please give the complete address of your neighbor, the details of the cruelty (dates, time of day, non-feeding, hitting, etc) and the telephone number of the barangay.
Usually, what happens without an affidavit from you is this:
- We knock on door or ask Barangay to knock on door to ask about 'alleged' animal cruelty or neglect.
- Owner makes some excuse that the neighbor was just exagerating and explains that the animal is not being neglected or cruelly-treated.
...everything stops there without real proof of cruelty or an affidavit that helps us rebutt whatever explanations or excuses that the owner would have.
If you just want PAWS to send a warning letter:
A warning letter from PAWS may not even elicit a response unless follow up letters mentioniong the filing of charges is brought up. For these follow-up letters, we need the affidavit leading up to filing criminal charges.
3. File charges. Filing charges consist of executing an affidavit and swearing before a Prosecutor. We can help you do this (i.e. we will have your affidavit checked). No expense involved except for time spent, transport on both our parts. PAWS assists complainants in court cases.
We cannot emphasize enough that without affidavit from a willing eyewitness, PAWS cannot go and threaten to file a case against stubborn pet owners. Please understand that making empty threats ruin credibility. Case cannot be filed without eyewitnesses willing to swear before the Prosecutor about their personal knowledge on the case. This is why we want complainants and concerned animal lovers to be ready with an affidavit so we can be ready for a court case if and when the animal offender calls us on this.
Please accomplish an afffidavit (for downloadable sample, click here)
just the same so that we can have this ready before we call the barangay and talk with the owner. Please don't forget to give us the telephone number of your barangay officials.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you decide to do, and your affidavit should you choose to help bring the animal offenders to justice.
PAWS urges concerned citizens/animal lovers to be the proactive partners in promoting animal welfare by providing the necessary information, initiative to enlighten, intervene and/or take action and willing to come forward as witnesses in cases of cruelty, abuse, neglect and imminent danger.
We always advise our volunteers and concerned citizens alike to thoroughly assess the situation whenever a suspected case of animal cruelty or neglect is apparent. We also strongly encourage people to exert an effort in communicating with pet owners, or ask help from neighbors or local authorities who might be able to assist in these types of events.
After one has assessed the situation and/or has talked to a neighbor/home association/barangay or has confirmed the neglect, we ask that you email complete details - what, where, when, who. As mentioned above, it is important to provide the name, contact # and address of the persons involved as well as your witness affidavit.
We try to reply to emails in a timely manner (within 48 hours). Please remember PAWS is a volunteer-based organization with limited resources. More often than not, there are only a few people having to attend meetings and hearings, check email, take calls, man the shelter, assign and monitor activities of volunteers among other responsibilities which may or may not be related to the shelter.
This is why we put up these guidelines so people can do things at their own level, without waiting for PAWS to scramble for available volunteers to answer the email, investigate reports or go out on a rescue.